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Heritage Trail

March 12, 2013

Heritage trail

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This is the link to BBC Midlands Today for the launch http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-22621668 – they were supposed to do a live link up, but the Stoke FC Manager Tony Pulis resigned that day, so I missed out.  Still it was great to get the publicity.

In my capacity as the Director for Legacy WM, I raised funds from the Heritage Lottery Funds (HLF) to develop a heritage trail for the Lozells and Handsworth area. http://www.legacy-wm.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10&Itemid=10  I used my contacts to get the course featured on BBC WM with Adrian Goldberg and this generated some interest and some volunteers.  I sent details of the course to Birmingham Post and Mail and they did a great piece, nearly covering the whole of page three http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/take-a-tour-of-birmingham-and-discover-the-delights-1312011?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

The Telegraph on line picked this up and they did a piece without my knowledge – well almost, I was with Councillor Waseem Zaffer when we have was speaking to the reporter and he had nothing but praise.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/9865714/Walking-tours-of-deprived-areas-given-Lottery-funding.html

But they didn’t print his comments – they spoke to Khaled Mahmood MP, who said that money could have been better spent on other issues in this climate.  The Daily Telegraph contacted me and asked to interview me – I told them, that I would only be interested in a positive article, they agreed to that.  In fairness they did a balanced article on the trail. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/tourism/9867874/Birminghams-new-tourist-trail-but-will-coach-parties-want-to-visit-East-Handsworth.html  Again they interviewed Khaled Mahmood MP, who said that money could have been better spent.

I was contacted by Arshia Riaz from BBC Midlands Masala asking to be interviewed.  I agreed and asked her to invite Khaled Mahmood MP to come on air.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0157ywr  This was a heated debate and his argument was that money could have been better spent on employment.  I explained that the work that we are doing will ultimately lead to employment and further investment in the area.  The area doesn’t get great press and the hope is that this project will be the start of rebranding the area.  The likes of Brick Lane, Brixton and parts of Liverpool Docklands were not the most desirable places to live, but now it is the place to be.

I was in Handsworth Library last week and I saw Yaw there, he is one of the 20 participants on the course.  He is of African descent and a recent arrival to the UK, he is unemployed.  He told me with out prompting – ‘did you know that Birmingham had a tram line’ I was a little over whelmed with that.  I asked him, how he found this out, he said he has been doing research in the library and he now looks at every thing more deeply.  If nothing else happens, it appears that I have inspired one person to a journey of learning.  The remaining participants are equally enthusiastic.

In reflection, all the media attention has helped to get volunteers to join the course, which is what I set out to do.  Yaw is only one of 20 enthusiastic volunteers, some of whom are unemployed, employed, students and retired – but they all have a great passion for the area, which they want to share with others.

I don’t disagree that there are issues of unemployment, mental health cuts to benefits etc.  But, our organisation was set up to use heritage to bring people together and that is what we are doing.  As the local MP what measures, is he taking to address these issues?

Simon Baddeley has blogged about the trail – follow the link below: http://democracystreet.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/handsworth-park-history-tour.html

See comments from Rod Ling – I feel very inspired and encouraged by his comments.

Just wanted to email you to encourage you with the Heritage work that I have been reading about. There aren’t many people that I know who are trying to make one narrative from the multicultural and ‘traditional’ heritage of neighbourhoods like Handsworth and Lozells. This is important if (particularly, young) people are to develop an identity that links the ‘long’ and ‘more recent’ histories.


As for the local MP – perhaps he is failing to see the potential, especially for young people, in what you are doing. 
Ground-breaking work is always hard.
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